Earthquake damages heart of California wine country

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The Independent US

The heart of Northern California's wine country was sharply jolted by an earthquake that smashed windows and glassware and knocked out power to thousands.

The heart of Northern California's wine country was sharply jolted by an earthquake that smashed windows and glassware and knocked out power to thousands.

After the quake early Sunday, two people were hospitalized, one of them a 5-year-old boy in critical condition.

"It was like someone was just holding the house and shaking it violently," said Alison Saether, who said plaster fell from the ceiling of her Napa home. "We were so panicked we couldn't even move."

Sunday afternoon, downtown streets were thick with tourists visiting shops and restaurants and attending a weekend festival. Yellow police tape kept people away from areas where glass had shattered, and temporary stop signs were placed at intersections where traffic signals weren't working.

The quake hit at 1:36 a.m. and measured a magnitude 5.2. It was centered about 6 miles (10 kilometers) northwest of Napa, near the small town of Yountville, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park.

Two aftershocks by afternoon measured magnitudes 1.5 and 1.8, and as many as 20 small aftershocks might be felt in the next week, according to the USGS.

A magnitude 5 quake can cause considerable damage in the immediate area and one of magnitude 6 can cause severe damage.

The shaking woke people as far south as San Francisco, some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.

"This was by far the most severe I've ever felt," said California Highway Patrol spokesman Mark Bunger, who said he has lived in the Napa area his whole life. "Usually it's a rolling, but this was more of a real jolting. My wife and kids were screaming. It was quite upsetting."

He said his house in nearby Browns Valley had cracked plaster but no major damage.

Power was restored by Sunday afternoon to most of the 10,000 customers who lost service, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spokesman Jonathan Franks.

A few wineries reported minor damage. "We lost about three bottles," said Lessly Van Houtan, who works in the tasting room of Carneros Creek winery.

"Everything is knocked off the shelves. Everything is broken," said Mark Christianson, a Long's Drugs store manager.

At least 25 people were treated for injuries, mostly minor cuts, said Denise Mace, spokeswoman for Queen of the Valley Hospital.

"When the quake hit, it dumped everything on the floor. There was glass everywhere," said Jerry Marquez, 33, who was being treated for cuts on his feet.

One man was in serious condition at the hospital and a 5-year-old boy was in critical condition because of head injuries caused by falling objects, Mace said. The boy underwent surgery at Oakland Children's Hospital.

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